Alberta Restrictions To Ease On Feb. 8

·4 min read

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveiled a four-step reopening plan for the province at a COVID-19 update on Jan. 29, 2021. The Premier stated that Alberta is now in what is being referred to as Early Steps in this plan, having entered this stage on Jan. 18 (when the public health orders were slightly relaxed). Progressing through the steps of this plan will allow for further easing of public health orders. Wearing masks while indoors and social distancing requirements will still be necessary throughout the reopening plan, and some level of restriction will still apply to all of the activities within each step

This plan's four steps are based on benchmarks related to the province's COVID-19 related hospitalization numbers. As Alberta reaches a new benchmark in hospitalization numbers, decisions about moving to the next step will be considered. The lowest risk activities in each step will be the first to be considered for change. There will be at least a three-week pause between moving from one step to the next, which will allow public health experts to assess the impact that any changes may have had on COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. If the hospitalization numbers are within the range of the next benchmark after three weeks have passed, decisions will once again be considered for moving to the next step.

As listed on the Government of Alberta website (alberta.ca/enhanced-public-health-measures.aspx), the stages of the reopening plan and the corresponding hospitalization benchmarks are as follows:

Early Steps: Went Into Effect On Jan. 18:

· Outdoor social gatherings of up to 10 people are permitted

· Personal and wellness services can reopen by appointment only

· Funeral service attendance is increased to 20 people, although funeral receptions still are not permitted

· K – 12 students have returned to in-person classes as of Jan. 11

Step 1: Hospitalizations Benchmark – 600

Potential loosening of some restrictions associated with:

· School-related indoor and outdoor children's sports and performances

· Indoor fitness activities

· Restaurants, pubs, and cafes

Step 2: Hospitalizations Benchmark – 450

Potential loosening of some restrictions associated with:

· Retail

· Community halls, banquet halls, and conference centres

· Hotels

· Further loosening of some of the restrictions from Step 1

Step 3: Hospitalizations Benchmark – 300

Potential loosening of some restrictions associated with:

· Places of worship

· Adult team sports

· Libraries, museums, art galleries, zoos, and interpretive centres

· Indoor seated events (e.g. movie theatres and auditoriums)

· Casinos, racing centres, and bingo halls

· Further loosening of some of the restrictions from Steps 1 and 2

Step 4: Hospitalizations Benchmark – 150

Potential loosening of some restrictions associated with:

· Amusement parks, indoor entertainment centres and play centres

· Tradeshow, conferences, and exhibiting events

· Performance activities such as singing, dancing, and wind instruments

· Indoor concerts, indoor and outdoor sporting events, indoor and outdoor festivals

· Wedding ceremonies and receptions

· Funeral receptions

· Workplaces (lifting work-from-home measures)

· Day camps and overnight camps

· Further loosening of some of the restrictions from steps 1, 2, and 3

There was more good news in addition to the announcement of the four-step reopening plan. Alberta reached the hospitalization benchmark for step 1 on Jan. 28, when hospitalizations in the province fell below 600. Going by the reopening plan, some of the current public health restrictions will be eased on Feb. 8 (three weeks after the last easing of restrictions on Jan. 18).

As listed on the Government of Alberta website (alberta.ca/enhanced-public-health-measures.aspx), the following restrictions will be eased starting on Feb. 8:

Indoor and outdoor children's sport and performance

· Children's sport and performance activities are permitted if they are related to school activities, such as physical education classes

· This will allow K-12 schools and post-secondary institutions to use off-site facilities to support curriculum-related educational activities

Indoor fitness

· Only one-on-one training is permitted for indoor fitness activities (e.g. fitness in dance studios, training figure skating on ice, one-on-one lessons)

· One-on-one sessions cannot interact with others, and there must be a minimum of three metres distance between sessions in the same facility

· Sessions have to be scheduled or by appointment

· No sports games, competitions, team practice, league play or group exercise of any kind

· Trainers must be professional, certified and/or paid trainers who are providing active instruction and correction. Passive supervision of a physical activity is not considered training

· Trainers should remain masked during the session; clients are not required to wear a mask while exercising

Restaurants, cafes and pubs

· Restaurants, cafes and pubs must collect the contact information of one person from the dining party

· Up to a maximum of six people per table; individuals must be from the same household or the two close contacts for people living alone

· Liquor service ends at 10 PM

· In-person dining must close by 11 PM

· No entertainment allowed (e.g., no VLTs, pool tables, live music, etc.)

Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette